Ancient Monuments

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Oval barrow on Westwood Common, 55m north west of Blackmill

A Scheduled Monument in Bishop Burton, East Riding of Yorkshire

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Latitude: 53.8374 / 53°50'14"N

Longitude: -0.4509 / 0°27'3"W

OS Eastings: 502036.739373

OS Northings: 439015.369831

OS Grid: TA020390

Mapcode National: GBR TS92.54

Mapcode Global: WHGF4.1TL2

Entry Name: Oval barrow on Westwood Common, 55m north west of Blackmill

Scheduled Date: 6 February 1996

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1014000

English Heritage Legacy ID: 26568

County: East Riding of Yorkshire

Civil Parish: Bishop Burton

Traditional County: Yorkshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): East Riding of Yorkshire

Church of England Parish: Beverley Minster St John and St Martin

Church of England Diocese: York


The monument includes an oval barrow on Westwood Common, Beverley, 55m north
west of Blackmill. It is one of an important group of prehistoric funerary
earthworks surviving together on Westwood Common, which represents a sizeable
area of land in which prehistoric earthworks have survived because of the
establishment of common grazing rights here in the 14th century AD.
The monument shows up very clearly on all aerial photographs of the area. It
is 20m long east-west and 13m wide north-south overall, and consists of a
central oval mound, surviving up to a metre in height, 14m in length and
9m wide, which has a slight depression in its centre, possibly owing to past
damage or interference. This central mound is surrounded by a discontinuous
ditch up to 3m wide and 0.4m deep. A causeway or entrance feature, 2.5m wide,
breaks the ditch at its eastern end, and the ditch further loses definition
along its southern side. There is a large hollow or damage on the south
eastern end that disrupts the overall integrity of the monument and is
possibly also indicative of some past excavation.

The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.
It includes a 2 metre boundary around the archaeological features,
considered to be essential for the monument's support and preservation.

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

Oval barrows are funerary and ceremonial monuments of the Early to Middle
Neolithic periods, with the majority of dated monuments belonging to the later
part of the range. They were constructed as earthen or rubble mounds of
roughly elliptical plan, usually delimited by quarry ditches. These ditches
can vary from paired "banana-shaped" ditches flanking the mound to "U-shaped"
or unbroken oval ditches nearly or wholly encircling it. Along with the long
barrows, oval barrows represent the burial places of Britain's early farming
communities and, as such, are amongst the oldest field monuments surviving
visibly in the present landscape. Where investigated, oval barrows have
produced two distinct types of burial rite: communal burials of groups of
individuals, including adults and children, laid directly on the ground
surface before the barrow was built; and burials of one or two adults interred
in a grave pit centrally placed beneath the barrow mound. Certain sites
provide evidence for several phases of funerary monument preceding the barrow
and, consequently, it is probable that they may have acted as important ritual
sites for local communities over a considerable period of time. Similarly, as
the filling of the ditches around oval barrows often contains deliberately
placed deposits of pottery, flintwork and bone, periodic ceremonial activity
may have taken place at the barrow subsequent to its construction. Oval
barrows are very rare nationally, with less than 50 recorded examples in
England. As one of the few types of Neolithic structure to survive as
earthworks, and due to their rarity, their considerable age and their
longevity as a monument type, all oval barrows are considered to be nationally

This oval barrow is one of a closely associated group of prehistoric
earthworks on Westwood Common, which includes both square and round barrows,
as well as Romano-British enclosures, linear boundary dykes and a short
section of Roman road. The group has survived as part of a rare landscape
characterised by features dating back as far as the Bronze Age, which has owed
its survival to the granting of common grazing rights to the local people of
Beverley in the 14th century AD.
The survival of such an extensive area of prehistoric earthworks is unusual in
this region of East Yorkshire, where arable agricultural practices have
resulted in the destruction of many earthwork remains of monuments above
ground. It offers important insights into ancient land use and territorial
divisions for social, ritual and agricultural purposes in this area, and the
development of these through time.
The survival of oval barrows is particularly unusual in the north east of
England, and although the monument has sustained some superficial damage, it
still retains much of its overall visual integrity as an earthwork and will
contain archaeological information relating to the period of its construction.
It is also a rare and important example of its class, in addition to forming
one of a well defined group of important funerary monuments here.

Source: Historic England


Mackay, Rodney , (1995)
Various APs on SMR Record, Humberside SMR Records, (1994)

Source: Historic England

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